A workshop for the newly-named Anthracite Outdoor Recreation Area will be an "eye-opening experience" for attendees, according to Pat Mack, director of the Northumberland County Planning Department.

The county will host the workshop conducted by the Pennsylvania Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Association, in cooperation with the National OHV Conservation Council (NOHVCC), Sunday and Monday, to improve the development, planning, design, construction, maintenance and management of sustainable OHV trail areas, facilities and systems for the park within 6,000 acres of county-owned land in Zerbe, Coal, West Cameron, East Cameron and Mount Carmel townships.

NOHVCC, according to Mack, is the premier resource in off-road trail designs and ideas, and is the leading authority in the industry for ensuring there are sufficient lands available for off-road enthusiasts. Mack said NOHVCC, an education non-profit organization, has worked on the California state off-road system and OHV parks, including the Hatfield and McCoy trail system in West Virginia.

The county's relationship with NOVACC began this summer when representatives from Pennsylvania (OHV) Association toured the county land and represented the county during a NOVACC national conference in Great Falls, Mont. Within days of the conference, Mack said, representatives from NOVACC were requesting a workshop in the Shamokin area.

"This is the first workshop on the East Coast in several years," said Mack. "We started working every channel to make it happen and find a way to fund it. We are lucky to have them here."

The workshop was made possible with support from the Pennsylvania Recreation And Parks Society, the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources' Recreational Trails Program, funded by the Federal Highway Administration, and additional support from the county planning department, the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and the Recreational OHV Association.

The workshop begins Sunday morning with an invitation-only tour of the site that will provide staff from the planning department, members of the Pennsylvania (OHV) Association, NOHVCC and steering committee a chance to familiarize themselves with geophysical characteristic of the park.

On Monday, the workshop moves indoors to Masser's Banquet Hall, Paxinos, where several informative sessions will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Main presenters include:

- Tom Crimmons, a trained forester with 32 years experience with the U.S. Forest Service in a wide variety of positions, including timber management, land management planning, minerals, range, wildlife and recreation. Crimmons has more than 20 years of experience planning and designing OHV trails. He is the author of "Management Guidelines for OHV Recreation."

- Russ Ehnes, NOHVCC executive director, who has helped develop a wide variety of OHV educational programs, including "Montana's On The Right Trail Campaign." Ehnes has worked extensively with a wide variety of recreation and resource groups as well as local, state and federal agencies.

- Jack Terrell, NOHVCC denior project coordinator, who is a past chairman of the Florida OHV Recreation Advisory Committee, a member of the Florida RTP Advisory Committee and land use chairman of the Florida Trail Riders. He has been involved with land use and recreational trail issues in Florida since 1992.

Other presenters include representatives from various OHV and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) manufacturers who will display various types of equipment and safety measures, and demonstrate ways to control equipment to limit noise and dust.

Mack envisions after the workshop, attendees will have a better understanding of the off-road industry.

"A lot of people picture the industry to be people riding with no helmets in the middle of the night," said Mack. "The workshop will put the industry in a new light and explain that it's just a minority of people who do this."

Monday's workshop is open to anyone, but Mack noted the information provided will focus on broader items, such as the industry in whole, and will not localize issues concerning the recreation area. Registration is also required to attend.

"It may get more in depth than what most people want to hear," said Mack.

Mack recommends the public attend the input session scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday inside the Shamokin Area Junior-Senior auditorium.

Public input meeting

At the input session, consultants from Pashek Associates will present a summary of economic development projections from similar facilities, review a draft of the proposed concept plan for the facility, discuss potential park operations and the life safety management system, discuss potential rules, present recommendations regarding the proposed hunting policy for the property and summarize research finding on fee structures of similar areas.

In addition, Mack said there will be economic data and concept maps and an information session to allow the public to ask questions, provide comments and suggestions to the consultants and project study committee.

Mack added that due to the amount of questions his office has received concerning the land and how it can be developed and used, legal representation from the county will be present to answer questions concerning these issues.

Due to lack of time, Mack said questions not answered may be written on index cards to possibly be answered at a future date.

"We hope that there is a good turnout and that we answer as many questions as we can," Mack said. "The last meeting provided a good turnout of people who provided good questions and comments."

The master plan is being funded with grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).